The Black Power Mixtape
The following is a message I sent recently to a group of my college classmates on The Black Power Mixtape, a film that I’m sure they will all want to see. Our group meets weekly on Zoom to discuss current issues, including frequently issues of race relations and conflict in the United States.
We just watched this last night. Very powerful. Something for all us, we who lived through these times. Some of it was new to me, some of the events, but what makes this really special is the perspective of people from outside our normal frame of reference : Swedish TV reporters and cameramen, seeking to explain to themselves and their compatriots the US’s racial violence and —especially —the sources of strength of the resistance.
Some especially wonderful moments include one where, at the suggestion of his Swedish interviewer, Stokely Carmichael interviews his own mother about her and his life, as though he were a reporter who didn’t already know the story he prompted her to tell. Also great interview snippets of Angela Davis, probably more relaxed than she would have been with an American interviewer, and many other scenes of struggle, courage and of course some occasional bombast. Brought back memories, in my case especially of the Black Panthers in Chicago after the murder of Fred Hampton, and their free breakfast program on the south side, labeled by J. Edgar Hoover as the most dangerous terrorist plot in America. I got to know them well, and had some of my sociology stedents doing volunteer work in that and other Panther initiatives.
We can be glad that these ancient videotapes were rediscovered in the Swedish studio basement and that their very skilled film editors have put them together in a moving, dramatic story.
… I think this is something everyone in our group (and beyond) will want to see.